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Uddin, Baroness Pola Manzila

By:
Eren Tatari
Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women What is This? A single source for accurate overview articles covering the major topics of scholarly interest within the study of women and Islam.

Uddin, Baroness Pola Manzila

is a Bengali-British Muslim community activist and advocate for social reforms and equal rights. She was born in a village in Bangladesh and raised in London's East End after moving with her parents to the United Kingdom in 1973. Her education consisted of Plashet Grammar School and later the University of North London where she graduated with a social work qualification in 1988; she also has an honorary doctorate from Exeter University.

Her community work began in the 1970s while she lived in the East End, pioneering several forward-thinking services and organizations that were well received. Her professional political career began in 1988 when she began to work with Newham Social Services. She was also a Youth and Community worker at the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), Liaison Officer for Tower Hamlets Social Services, and Manager of Tower Hamlets Women's Health Project.

Her career has been marked by significant achievements and a substantial amount of social work and activism that propelled Islam into British society. She was elected as a Tower Hamlets councilor in 1990 (becoming Deputy Leader in 1994), a position that would result in even greater achievements and social championing.

Throughout her working life, Baroness Uddin has been a pioneer in social service and activism in Britain. She has an impressive list of achievements in the social realm of her career, which has influenced and led to her political success. Her accomplishments in social work include the development and initiation of several projects such as a women's health and advocacy project; counseling services for families (she leads the Breaking the Cycle Project, an organization assisting families affected by substance misuse); the construction of the Jagonari Women's Education Resource Centre, the first training and education center of its kind in the country. In 2009 she became the Chair of the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Women Councilors Taskforce. (Founded in May 2008 by the Minister for Women and Equality, Harriet Harman, the taskforce's aim is to encourage ethnic women to join electoral politics.) She is also a board member of Autism Speak U.K; pioneering initiatives against domestic violence; working as a child protection officer; and is a patron of Bethnal Green and Victoria Park Housing Association, Women's Housing Forum, and Women's Aid.

When elected as a Tower Hamlets councilor, she was the first Bengali woman to hold local authority in Britain; she rose to peerage in 1998 as one of Tony Blair's working peers. Rt. Hon. Baroness Uddin of Bethnal Green was the youngest woman among the government benches, the first Bengali and the first Muslim woman to hold a seat in the House of Lords, and the only Muslim woman in Parliament at the time. She also ranked as Britain's sixth most powerful woman on the 2009 Muslim Women Power List. “A formidable champion for women” and “a campaigner on women's and ethnic minority issues” are just two of Baroness Uddin's unofficial titles due to her focus on minority, women, and disability rights throughout her career.

Bibliography

  • Baroness Pola Manzila Uddin.” www.Bbwhoshwho.co.uk British Bangladeshi Who's Who. 2008.
  • “Baroness Pola Manzila Uddin,” in Notable Muslims: Muslim Builders of World Civilization and Culture, Natana DeLong-Bas. Oxford: Oneworld, 2006.
  • Compass: Tomorrow's Islam Screening on ABC TV, Sunday 26 October 2003 at 9:50 p.m.” www.ABC.net.au. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
  • Muslim Women Power List.” www.Guardian.co.uk 25 March 2009.
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